Alabama Academy of Honor inducts five new members

Former U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon speaks at his induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor on Oct. 22, 2018 at the the State Capitol. (

The Alabama Academy of Honor inducted five new members today, recognizing them for achievement in civil rights, civic leadership and business.

The academy, created by the Legislature in 1965, includes 100 living members, plus the living governors of Alabama. The academy elects new members.

The five new members are civic leader Walter A. Bell; former U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon; Ann D. Florie, former executive director of Leadership Birmingham; D. Paul Jones, Jr., former chairman and CEO of Compass Bank; and W. Stancil (Stan) Starnes, CEO of ProAssurance Corporation.

The new members were recognized and spoke at an induction ceremony today at the State Capitol.

Here is some of the biographical information on the new inductees included in the program at today’s ceremony:

Bell was born in Buena Vista, Alabama, son of a third-generation farmer who moved the family to Mobile during World War II. Bell graduated from Central High School.

After high school he attended community college in California and served for six years in the California National Guard and was deployed during the Watts riot in Los Angeles and the People Park riot in Berkeley.

Bell moved to Indiana in 1973 and became community relations director for the Indianapolis Urban League. He wrote news articles and speeches, hosted two weekly radio shows and a monthly television show. In 1976, he produced a stage play, “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.”

Bell returned to Mobile in 1978 and founded the Mobile County Urban League, launching a 40-year career of involvement in civic, charitable, educational and economic programs.

Gov. Bob Riley appointed Bell to serve as Alabama Insurance Commissioner. From 2008 to 2015, Bell was chairman of the Swiss Re America Holding Corporation, a $17 billion subsidiary of the Swiss Reinsurance Company.

Bell graduated from Spring Hill College and served as a trustee there for 13 years. Bell’s son, W. Kamau Bell, is host of the Emmy-winning CNN show, “United Shades of America.”

Clemon was born in Fairfield in 1943, the son of sharecroppers who migrated from Mississippi.

As a student at Miles College, he participated in the Birmingham campaign for civil rights launched by Martin Luther King Jr., the campaign that led to confrontations with Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor. After obtaining a law degree from Columbia University, he represented black plaintiffs in major civil rights litigation against the Jefferson County school board, United States Steel Corporation, Pullman Standard Corporation and the city of Birmingham.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Clemon in 1980 to be Alabama’s first African-American judge. He retired from the bench in 2009 and resumed practicing law.

Florie, a native of Weldon, Ark., received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Newcomb College of Tulane University.

Florie was the founding executive director of Region 2020, which promoted cooperation and citizen involvement in a 12-county area in affordable housing, education, arts and culture, transportation and land use.

She served as executive director of Leadership Birmingham. Florie is an appointed member of the Jefferson County Personnel Board and serves on the executive committee of the Birmingham Business Alliance and the board of directors for the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

She was on the Mountain Brook Board of Education for 10 years.

Jones, born in 1942, received degrees in business and in law from the University of Alabama. He began practicing law with the predecessor to the Birmingham law firm Balch & Bingham in 1967.

In 1978, Jones joined Compass Bancshares (then Central Bancshares) as senior vice president and general counsel. He served as president of the Alabama Bankers Association. Jones was a director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta from 1993 to 2009.

Jones became chairman and CEO of Compass in 1991, a position he held until his retirement in 2008. Compass grew under his leadership to operate 622 offices in seven states and was ranked as the 26th largest bank in the nation based on deposits.

Starnes graduated from Shades Valley High School in 1965 at the age of 16. He obtained a business degree from the University of Alabama. In 1972, Starnes graduated first in his class with a law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

In 1975, Starnes and his father established the law firm now known as Starnes Davis Florie. Starnes defended physicians and others in health care cases, including national and international clients. He wrote the Alabama Medical Liability Act, passed by the Legislature in 1987, as well as amendments to the law.

In 2007, Starnes was named chairman and CEO of ProAssurance Corporation, an insurance company that operates in all 50 states and focuses on health care issues.

This story will be updated.

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Business Buzz: Woodstream Apartments, The Greens at Aboretum, Hope Mills Hardee’s and Spectrum

Woodstream Apartments, a 202-unit property built in 1974, has been sold for $8.65 million by Providence Investments of Birmingham, Alabama, to Contour Development Group of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Woodstream is off Cliffdale Road, not far from its intersection with Skibo Road. It offers one- and two-bedroom units, and has community amenities like a clubhouse, fitness center, laundry, pool and tennis courts.

Berkadia, a joint venture of Berkshire Hathaway and Jefferies Financial Group, negotiated the transaction on behalf of Providence.

Now leasing

The Greens at Aboretum in Pinehurst has begun leasing one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury units.

The 72 units are billed as open floor plans with oversized windows that include a private balcony or patio.

Hardee’s

Hope Mills gets a new Hardee’s on Monday, with doors opening at 5 a.m. at the corner of Legion and Elk roads.

The address is 4260 Legion Road. The restaurant will be open seven days and have a drive-thru service.

Boddie-Noell Enterprises, based in Rocky Mount and a Hardee’s franchise operator for 56 years, has 10 other locations in Fayetteville, part of 138 in North Carolina and 348 across four states. The restaurant will seat 69 and will have free wi-fi service.

Kickoff nears

Spectrum News North Carolina, the official cable TV home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, will kickoff its 2018 Panthers programming and live preseason game coverage with the season’s first video simulcast of the weekly radio show “Panther Talk” on July 30 at 7:30 p.m. from Bank of America Stadium.

Spectrum News North Carolina’s live game preseason programming will feature all four preseason matchups: the Bills on Aug. 9, the Dolphins on Aug. 17, the Patriots on Aug. 24 and the Steelers on Aug. 30. The Sunday highlight show “Panthers Game Day” debuts Aug. 12 at 11:30 p.m., and will include a second half-hour of team coverage exclusively for Spectrum viewers at midnight.

During the regular season, Spectrum News North Carolina will have exclusive re-air video simulcasts of the Panthers’ weekly “Panther Talk” radio show.

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A Look At Mountain Brook’s Most Expensive Real Estate Listing

MOUNTAIN BROOK, AL – While there is no secret regarding the number of luxurious and beautiful homes located in Mountain Brook, a recent alert from realtor.com that a home had reduced its asking price shows just how pricey some of the homes listed in the suburb are.

A listing located at 3012 Southwood Road recently dropped its price – if you consider sending the price to just under $3 million much of a drop. That may not exactly make the home more affordable to the vast majority of house hunters in today’s market, as the home remains the most expensive listing in the Birmingham metro’s most expensive suburb.

The home was built in 1926, and retains the historic look and feel of old Mountain Brook. Zoned for Mountain Brook Elementary School and located within walking distance to Jemison Trail and Mountain Brook Parkway, the home sits on a three-acre lot, and offers a nearly 8,000 square feet of living space.

The 90-year-old wood floors are still in perfect condition, and the home also features Italian marble fireplaces, mantles from the 1600’s, leaded glass windows, crystal chandeliers, European kitchen hardware, a butler’s pantry and an addition that was done to match the detail of the original home – producing a spacious first floor master suite, a modern kitchen with top of the line appliances, a magnificent great room with 16′ vaulted ceilings and 5 sets of French doors that open to spacious bluestone terrace overlooking the the grounds.

Also included on the property is a two-bedroom/two bathroom guest house, a formal sunken garden, covered patio and wrap around terrace.

This home has now been on the market for a year, originally listed at $3,195,000 in June of 2017. The home was last sold in July of 2013 for $3,395,000. At one point in 2005, the home was listed at $4,499,000.

Photo via realtor.com

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Here Are The Most Expensive Condos In The Birmingham Area

BIRMINGHAM, AL – For some house-hunters, buying a condominium or a townhouse is a more inexpensive route toward home ownership. A majority of the condos in the Birmingham area are listed at a lower price than houses are, and the maintenance costs of condos and townhouses are usually much lower than single-family homes.

However, there are some condo listings in the metro area that carry a hefty price tag – a handful even listed above $1 million – defending on the location.

Here are the 10 most expensive condo and townhouse listings in the Birmingham area according to realtor.com:

2206 2nd Avenue North, Unit A; Downtown Birmingham: $2.2 million

521 Olde English Lane; Mountain Brook: $1.5 million

2301 1st Avenue North, Unit 105; Downtown Birmingham: $549,000

1831 28th Avenue, Unit N200; Homewood: $539,780

2716 Hanover Circle, Unit 801; Highland Park: $523,500

2112 Morris Avenue, Unit 103; Downtown Birmingham: $519,900

Photo via Realtor.com

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Birmingham mayor names city’s first LGBTQ liaison

Josh Coleman

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has hired the city’s first LGBTQ liaison to serve as both a spokesperson for the city and as a representative of LGBTQ interests.

Josh Coleman, who currently works as vice president of Central Alabama Pride, will start his new role on June 25.

Woodfin made the announcement Sunday at PrideFest held at Sloss Furnaces.

As a way to make the city more inclusive, Woodfin also plans to create the Mayor’s Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity. Details on this office haven’t been released yet.

A diversity officer will also be hired in the city’s economic development department, the mayor told city councilors last week.

As LGBTQ liaison, Coleman will focus on the public safety of the LGBTQ communities. Coleman will build upon the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the city through provision of fair and professional policies and services, according to the mayor’s office.

"We are very excited to have Josh at the table," Woodfin said. "Birmingham is the city that taught the world the importance of inclusion. Josh will help us continue to uphold that legacy of equality by ensuring that all of our citizens have a voice in this administration."

Besides working at Central Alabama Pride, a nonprofit organization focused on celebrating pride and diversity in Central Alabama, Coleman is a volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign, a certified life coach and an ordained minister. Previously, he worked as chief operating officer of Rickmark Inc., a large multiunit Pizza Hut franchisee.

Coleman is known for his commitment to social issues, specifically LGBTQ equality. He is the national committeeman for the Alabama Young Democrats, an advisor to AYD’s LGBTQ caucus, and board member of Greater Birmingham Democrats. Since 2008, Coleman has worked on several political campaigns and advocacy efforts.

"It really is an honor to serve in this position, and have a mayor interested in making sure that all of its residents are represented,” Coleman said. "This is the next step in Mayor Woodfin’s commitment to having an of having an open, fair and inclusive city.”

Pre-cut fruit has sickened as many as 60 people, according to the CDC. (Contributed photo/CDC)
The national debate over arming teachers and other school personnel is pushing its way as a top issue in political campaigns throughout Alabama, and is expected to be a big issue this fall. (Jeff Amy, Associated Press)

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Birmingham man drowns in rough waters in Panama City Beach

A 31-year-old Birmingham man drowned Friday in rough Gulf waters in Panama City Beach, Florida.

According to police, the man joined about 8 to 10 of his friends for a swim in the Gulf around 7:40 p.m. in the 17000 block of Front Beach Road near the Tropic Winds condominiums. The man was later seen by his friends floating face down in the water, a Panama City Police Beach sergeant told AL.com.

Attempts to administer CPR were ineffective and the man was pronounced dead a a beachside emergency room.

Authorities are not releasing the man’s name, but WMBB-TV in Panama City identified him as Darrius Stone Jr. of Birmingham.

Red flag warnings were present along beaches throughout the Gulf on Friday, warning swimmers to stay out of the water because of dangerous conditions.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, officially open the Interpretive Center and East Pedestrian Bridge on Thursday, May 24, 2018, at Gulf State Park. Ivey said on Thursday that she is going to wait for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to weigh in on a permitting process for a proposed $10 million boat launch in Orange Beach before determining the state’s involvement. (John Sharp/jsharp@al.com).

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New Aviation Company Opening At Birmingham Airport

BIRMINGHAM, AL – A new aviation company celebrated its grand opening Tuesday, a firm that will operate out of more than 67,000 square feet of space on both the East and West ramps of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Southern Sky Aviation, which offers charter flights, maintenance, flight training, aircraft sales, aircraft management and avionics services, was founded by Birmingham business veteran Bill Gunnells, who was previously the CEO and founder of a prescription drug card benefits company RxBenefits before selling the company in 2016. Shortly thereafter, Gunnells and president Bo Andrews, who has been in the aviation business for 31 years, began the long approval process for obtaining a Part 135 Charter certificate from the FAA after seeing an opportunity to bring a comprehensive aviation company to Birmingham.

(For more updates on this story and free news alerts for your neighborhood, sign up for your local Birmingham Patch morning newsletter.)

"Aviation is something I’ve been passionate about my entire life since my first flying lesson at age 16," Gunnels said. "To start and grow a company that operates at the highest service levels in all the major areas of private aviation is a dream come true. Additionally, being able to reinvigorate and strengthen the aviation industry in Birmingham while also creating jobs where employees can make a good living and have a great quality of life is the ultimate reward. I’m excited about the future."

Southern Sky can handle the maintenance needs of all types of aircraft, arrange private charters, help clients buy and sell aircraft, manage aircraft so that owners can protect their investment and those who travel in it, plus provide training for anyone wanting to be a pilot.

"We are providing clients with a better alternative to traditional commercial or private air travel," Andrews said. "In addition, we offer the highest levels of concierge hospitality services on our charter flights. For us, it is not just about getting people where they need to go, we are getting them there and back safely, with smiles on their faces."

Southern Sky Aviation’s operations are conducted from two locations: Hangar 34 on the West ramp and Hangar 14 on the East ramp of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Photo by Michael Seale/Patch

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Skilled nursing facilities in Birmingham, Butler, Montgomery, Selma, Montrose Bay acquired by Montreal-based real estate investor paired with Blue Ridge Healthcare – Birmingham Business Journal

Several skilled nursing facilities in Alabama changed hands in March.

Five skilled nursing facilities in Birmingham, Butler, Montgomery, Selma, and Montrose Bay were acquired by a Montreal-based real estate investor paired with Blue Ridge Healthcare, a Florida-based regional operator.

Advisory firm for seniors housing and healthcare real estate, Blueprint Healthcare Real Estate Advisor, represented the seller in the transactions — the company’s first seniors housing venture in Alabama. Brooks Blackmon of Montgomery led the transactions.

Blueprint Healthcare’s transaction volume in Alabama now totals more than $71 million in the last 11 months.

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Millennials are buying a lot more homes than you think

Flickr/Brent and Amanda I
There’s a popular myth that says millennials are destined to be a generation of renters.Millennials are actually the reason the homeownership rate has increased over the past year.Birmingham, Alabama has seen the biggest increase in millennial home buying over the past year.

It’s a popular myth – the millennial generation is destined to be a generation of renters – avocado toast, anyone? With student loan debt burdens, the scars of the Great Recession, and limited housing supply, the myth is rooted in some real challenges for millennials. However, despite these challenges, millennials are not only interested in homeownership, they are the primary reason that the homeownership rate increased over the past year.

Many millennials have prioritized furthering their education and thus delayed getting married and having children, which are critical lifestyle triggers to buying a first home. However, now the oldest millennials have made those lifestyle decisions and are entering the housing market. In fact, the data supports this trend – the homeownership rate among households headed by someone under age 35 increased the most of any age group in the fourth quarter of 2017, jumping from 34.7 percent a year earlier to 36 percent.

Millennial homeownership demand is rising nationally, but where are millennials buying? Using the top 50 largest cities from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, we identified cities with the largest increases and decreases between 2016 and 2017 in the share of homeowners that are millennials.

The top 5 cities where millennial home buying increased the most:

Birmingham, AL Virginia Beach, VA Pittsburgh, PA Buffalo, NY Minneapolis, MN

In the top market, Birmingham, the millennial homeownership share increased from 11.9 percent in 2016 to 18.0 percent in 2017. The top five markets experienced an average millennial homeownership share increase of 5.4 percent. Conversely, some markets have experienced falls in the share of millennial homeownership. The markets with the largest decreases are:

Orlando, FL Louisville, KY Richmond, VA Hartford, CT Salt Lake City, UT

Orlando, the market with the largest drop, experienced a 3.7 percent fall in millennial homeownership share. The bottom five markets’ share of millennial homeowners fell an average of 2.6 percent in 2017.

Out of the 50 top markets, 33 of them experienced increases in the share of millennial homeowners, another indicator that exposes the myth of millennials being destined to rent. These results are consistent with findings that millennials are buying in cities large and small. So, are millennials destined to be a generation of renters? Consider that myth busted. Quite the opposite, actually – and they’re just getting started.

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Birmingham Realtors & Greater Alabama MLS welcome new CEO

The Birmingham Association of REALTORS (BAR) Board of Directors welcomes Dr. Dawn Kennedy as CEO of the nearly 4,000-member association and its multiple listing service. She begins her position as Association Executive on March 19.

"These are exciting times," said 2018 BAR President Kim Mangham-Barelare. "We’ve chosen a CEO who will take us to new heights."

Mangham-Barelare said she is impressed with Kennedy’s passion for the real estate industry and her dedication to providing quality education and services to members.

"She is a burst of energy and sunshine, someone who is always looking for ways to improve relations and to grow the individual agents, whether they be residential or commercial agents or property managers. She will be a joy for everyone to get to know," Mangham-Barelare said.

Kennedy brings with her more than 20 years of executive experience, including 15 years of association management. She considers the work her passion and often blogs and publishes advice for association executives.

"Association management has been a passion of mine since I first became a member of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association in 1995 as a local chapter treasurer," Kennedy said. "When I entered the REALTOR world, I discovered a mission – homeownership – that I could solidly stand behind and knew I had found my lifetime career."

Civic leaders and association members are invited to meet the new CEO 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, 2018, during a welcome reception at BAR, 3501 Independence Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209. For details, email info@BirminghamREALTORS.com.

Kennedy formerly led the Saint Louis Association of REALTORS, the Oklahoma City Metro Association of REALTORS and its regional multiple listing service, MLSOK.com, and the Northwoods Association of REALTORS and its Greater Northwoods Multiple Listing Service. She has twice been the recipient of the National Association of REALTORS ACE award for Achievement in Commercial Excellence. Kennedy has also served the Woodland Lakes Association of REALTORS and the El Reno Board of REALTORS through the NAR shared services program while CEO of the NWAR and OKCMAR respectively.

Kennedy earned her Ph.D. in organization and management with a leadership specialization in 2015 from Capella University. She graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a graduate degree in project management. Kennedy is a summa cum laude undergraduate of Franklin University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in economics.

Kennedy teaches graduate courses in association management for the National Association of REALTORS’ REALTOR University Master of Real Estate program as well as the business core marketing course. "Continuous learning is an incredibly important path to excellence, and RU keeps me on that road," she said. Teaching is her way of "giving back to the real estate industry, which has treated me so well," she said.

The Association Executive serves as CEO of the Birmingham Association of REALTORS(r) and its subsidiaries: The Greater Alabama MLS, The Birmingham Commercial REALTORS Council and Silent Angels of Alabama. Among other duties, Kennedy will oversee day-to-day operations, position the association as the local voice for real estate and serve as the association’s visionary leader guided by the board of directors, bylaws, policies, procedures and the association’s mission and strategic plan.

The Birmingham Association of REALTORS (BirminghamRealtors.com) was founded in 1911 and endeavors to enhance members’ opportunities to serve consumers in a professional, ethical and profitable manner. The Greater Alabama Multiple Listing Service (GreaterAlabamaMLS.com) and the Birmingham Commercial REALTORS Council (Bhamcre.com) are subsidiary corporations of BAR. BAR is recognized as Alabama’s trusted real estate authority.

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